social (in)security

The federal entitlement known as “Social Security” epitomizes the approach to society that sees a prominent role for the federal government in providing for its citizenry. Launched during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, it has developed into program regarded as crucial for the retirement security of older Americans. Whether that was its initial design and intent is questionable, but that is what it has become for many.

Not all, of course, and from my earliest working days it has been impressed upon me that one should not plan to retire with only Social Security income to live on. How well I’ve done in saving for retirement to this point is something I should probably put some effort into assessing, but that’s a project for some other time.

But it seems to be a critical project, given the financial condition of the Social Security program. As this report from CNN points out, economic and demographic changes have created a situation already where people now retiring will have paid more in payroll taxes than they will be paid in Social Security retirement income.

That there is in fact no money in the trust fund has alarmed some over the past couple of decades, but not many. The rapid increase recently in the number of people drawing disability from the Social Security program can only make the situation worse, since they are not paying payroll taxes either, one of the significant problems with the recent fall in workforce participation.

I’ll be honest; when I consider retirement, I already expect not to retire until my late 60’s at the earliest, and I do not include Social Security in my projections. While I would prefer to be able to trust the programs established by the government of my country, that strikes me at this point as imprudent.

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